When did you start playing badminton?
I was a restless kid. My parents thought that playing badminton may burn off my energy a little bit. And it turns out I really like it. I went to a badminton camp when I was eight. They saw how happy I was when I was in the camp, so they allowed me to play since then. There are many tournaments in India. I competed in U10 (group of age of 10) in the beginning but I didn’t stand out. Not until I won the first regional championship in our state when I was 13 did Prakash Padukone* notice me. Then I was selected into his training programs.
*Prakash Padukone is a well-known Indian badminton player, who is also the first Indian winner in All England Open Badminton Championships.
The Incheon Asia Games (pre-Asian Games interview) is well around the corner. You used to participate in the Asian Games in Guangzhou. What do you expect for yourself this time?
Of course I want to win medals in both individual and team competition. However, badminton in the Asian Games is highly competitive, maybe more competitive than the Olympics because there are tons of great players in Asia. I will do my best anyway.
What do you think is the difference between playing on the professional tour and in multi-sport events?
You play for yourself on the pro tour. It always feels great when you get a good result. However, you play for your country in the team events. It feels totally different when you win. Playing for India is tremendous honor.
What do you miss most when you’re playing abroad?
Food, I guess, especially my mom’s homemade cooking.
You love your mom’s cooking. Do you cook?
I don’t! *Laugh out loud* I really wanted to learn, but my mom always finished cooking when I was about to try. I might as well just enjoy the food since it’s ready anyway. Oh, I’m such a spoiled child.
There are all of kinds of badminton outfits. What’s your favorite style?
I love pink for everything on the court, everything from bags to kits. It better be pink.
What do you usually dress?
I usually dress casually. I don’t normally wear make-up, eyeliners at most. I prefer natural looks. I used to dress like a boy, but as time went by, I tried to be more feminine. Time can change a person, anyway. I love shopping shoes, all types of shoes. I can match different shoes with different outfit. For example, I wear high heels with Indian Saris. But I still don’t feel comfortable in high heels since I only started learning to wear them.
I notice that you have nose piercing. Where did that come from?
My mom also had nose piercing at the same spot, so I always wanted to have one. At the age of 19, I lost in a small tournament. I told myself. “It’s time to do something different.” And then I went to have my nose pierced. I got three now already since the first one.
Do you have your lucky charm that you have to take it with you on court?
I would put on some black accessories, among which bracelets are my favorite. Wearing something black to pursue luck and avoid evil is kind of a superstition for me as an Indian.
What do you like to do most when you’re not playing?
I love hanging out with my family and friends. I love reading and listening to music. I listen to all kinds of music. I also love singing. I always hum in the car.